Tiling the master shower

You’ve already seen how we tiled the floor in the master bathroom. The next and more intimidating task was to tackle the walk-in shower. We needed to tile the walls, the “curb” that you step over to get into the shower, the shampoo bottle niche and the floor. We were confident about tiling the walls but the niche and the floor seemed a bit more challenging. Read on to see how we did.

We screwed a 2×4 into the wall to serve as a flat base for the first row of tiles to rest on. The we installed a white metal edging piece (which is really just to make the edge of the tile look finished). Then we started installing the first row of tiles, using spacers to keep them evenly spaced. I’m glad we used the 2×4 as a base because gravity definitely would have pulled them downward before the thinset had a chance to dry and adhere fully to the wall.

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The 2×4 is screwed into the wall temporarily to serve as a flat surface for the tile to rest on while it dries

We finished almost one entire wall on the first night. Jeremy used special drill bits to drill holes in the tile for the shower head and handles.  Most of the tiles were full pieces (thank god!) but as we got toward the inside corner we knew we’d have to cut some to fit. We got into a nice flow where I would measure and Jeremy would cut the tile, then I would install it. I used painter’s tape to keep some of the tiles from sliding around (gravity is strong!).

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On the second day, we finished the top of the first wall and started on the wall with the niche. It was easy enough but we waited until the third day to tackle the niche.

By the third day, we were ready to tackle the hardest part of the tiling project: the niche!! Tiling the niche is much harder because of all the 90-degree angles. Ours has three separate compartments which  means even more corners to deal with. Jeremy used the tile saw to cut the edges of the tiles at a 45-degree angle so they would come together to form a perfect right angle. You can see what I mean in this photo:

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45-degree cuts in the corners of the niche.

We had 12 corners in total, so he had to do a LOT of those tricky cuts. We purchased a darker gray tile (for some contrast) with a bullnose edge for the walls of the niche from The Tile Shop in Tenlytown. That store has beautiful tile but it’s quite expensive, so we only go there for hard-to-find finishing pieces like bullnose. It took a long time to install the sides of the niche but we were very pleased with our progress, despite the slow down!

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Sides of the niche are in place!

On day 4, we were ready to tile the inside flat wall of the niche with sheets of mosaic tile. We purchased these beauties from Floor and Decor for $10 per square foot. The pattern comes attached to a mesh sheet to allow for easier application, but we still needed to use the tile saw to cut it exactly to size. To get the edges to look nice and clean, Jeremy had to cut tiny pieces for us to fit into place, almost like a puzzle. And it was challenging–we had to throw away our first attempt because it was about half an inch too small. But eventually we got it right for all three sections of the niche and were so happy. UNTIL I LOOKED AT THIS PHOTO.

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The pattern is going the wrong way on the bottom niche!

Turns out, we accidentally cut and installed the pattern facing the wrong direction on the bottom section. UGH. Luckily we realized this mistake before the thinset dried, so we sadly pulled the tile off the wall and went to bed feeling silly and defeated.

The next day, Jeremy correctly cut the last bit of mosaic tile and I installed it. we were FINALLY done with the hardest part of this project. Jeremy quickly moved on to cutting and placing all the mosaic tiles for the floor, and we both worked to install it on the shower floor. We were careful to install it following the subtle slope toward the center drain. We also installed tile on the sides of the curb.

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The corrected bottom niche, shower floor, and sides of curb

The next day, we installed the curb itself. We bought these solid white marble curbs from Floor and Decor. We wanted to do a miter cut at 45-degrees but we decided against it because of how challenging that type of cut is. We went with a square edge instead, and once it’s grouted, caulked, and the glass wall is installed I don’t think anyone will notice the lack of miter cut at the corner.

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Olive showing off our new shower curbs!

I don’t love how dark gray the shower walls turned out. I was expecting it to look a little more white then they turned out to be. We actually tried to buy a different tile from Home Depot but they have horrible quality control and we gave up on that option for annoying reasons I won’t go into. When I saw the above photo I felt really annoyed at how gray the tiles look. Sigh….for our next master bathroom maybe I’ll be more thoughtful about the shades of carrara marble.

The next day, Jeremy sealed the marble with a liquid sealer. After 24 hours, we were ready to grout! It took us about 3 hours to grout the entire room over 2 days. Grouting is easy but a little messy. Jeremy and I got into what I like to call “teamwork magic” mode, where he applied and grout and I wiped away the excess with a sponge. It allowed us to keep moving across the room and waste little time. We were like a well-oiled grouting machine! When we were finished, the shower looked much better! The white grout nicely contrasted the gray tiles and even pulled out some of the white undertones. And the grout made the niche and shower floor look AMAZING.

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All grouted up and looking real pretty

So that’s it for now! Our vanity is being delivered next week (WOO HOO) and we are getting a bunch of quotes for the glass shower door/wall. While we wait, we are going to switch gears and focus on finishing the new tiny powder room on the first floor.

 

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